The NBA head coaching carousel is already spinning during the 2020-21 regular season. First, the Minnesota Timberwolves fired Ryan Saunders. A few days later, the Atlanta Hawks somewhat shockingly dispatched Lloyd Pierce. Who will be the next NBA head coach to be fired? Will he come from the Eastern Conference? The Western Conference? We have some thoughts.
Something to keep in mind before we make these NBA picks: Wagering on head coaching jobs is an NBA prop. This means the lines are subject to intermittent availability and will often be pulled when a similar event takes place and the odds need to be reformulated.
That is currently the point we've reached. The top online sportsbooks pulled their NBA head-coaching props shortly after Pierce was fired by the Hawks on Monday, March 1.
Rest assured, these NBA betting lines will return. You should be checking reliable places like Bovada, BetOnline, BetUS, etc. to see whether they've reposted odds. In the meantime, here's a list of every head coach in the NBA—minus Atlanta (they still don't have a coach) and Minnesota (Chris Finch) because each team just made a change:
|Brad Stevens||Boston Celtics||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Steve Nash||Brooklyn Nets||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|James Borrego||Charlotte Hornets||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Billy Donovan||Chicago Bulls||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|J.B. Bickerstaff||Cleveland Cavaliers||+1000||+1000||+1000|
|Rick Carlisle||Dallas Mavericks||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Mike Malone||Denver Nuggets||+1300||+1200||+1100|
|Dwane Casey||Detroit Pistons||+275||+275||+300|
|Steve Kerr||Golden State Warriors||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Stephen Silas||Houston Rockets||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Nate Bjorkgren||Indiana Pacers||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Ty Lue||Los Angeles Clippers||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Frank Vogel||Los Angeles Lakers||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Taylor Jenkins||Memphis Grizzlies||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Erik Spoelstra||Miami Heat||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Mike Budenholzer||Milwaukee Bucks||+1250||+1190||+1230|
|Stan Van Gundy||New Orleans Pelicans||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Tom Thibodeau||New York Knicks||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Mark Daignault||Oklahoma City Thunder||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Steve Clifford||Orlando Magic||+250||+280||+300|
|Doc Rivers||Philadelphia 76ers||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Monty Williams||Phoenix Suns||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Terry Stotts||Portland Trail Blazers||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Luke Walton||Sacramento Kings||+200||+200||+200|
|Gregg Popovich||San Antonio Spurs||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Nick Nurse||Toronoto Raptors||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Quin Snyder||Utah Jazz||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Scott Brooks||Washington Wizards||+250||+250||+250|
Make sure you circle back and check out this list in the coming days and weeks. It will be updated as the odds start to resurface. For now, let's get to ranking the NBA head coaches most likely to be fired next.
Which NBA Head Coach Will Be Fired Next?
Some final free advice before we get into the weeds. Though the NBA is a difficult business that operates on short windows, head coaches almost always get at least a season-and-a-half to put their team together when they first take a new gig.
This means you'll want to avoid betting on head coaches like Steve Nash of the Brooklyn Nets, Billy Donovan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Tom Thibodeau of the New York Knicks, and others who are in their first year on the job. In most instances, you won't even see these names on the betting ledger. That's how unlikely they are to get fired.
1. Luke Walton, Sacramento Kings
Many people who already bet on the first head coach to be fired may have invested in Luke Walton. Nearly everyone around the league has been waiting for him to get fired.
While he was celebrated for his success as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, Walton has so far been an unspectacular head coach with both the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings. He has not overseen major developments from any of his younger players, and even a success story like star De'Aaron Fox is mitigated by the fact Walton still doesn't use him properly.
The Kings should play faster. Their substitution patterns should make more sense. They need to get Harrison Barnes more time at power forward. They need to play Marvin Bagley at the 5. Or not at all. The list is basically endless.
In fact, we'd bet against him finishing the season as head coach of the Kings. That's how much peril he finds himself in.
2. Scott Brooks, Washington Wizards
Scott Brooks is another popular name to bandy about within this exercise. Most won't be surprised that Saunders got the boot in Minnesota before him, but Pierce's departure coming before Brooks' is a minor shock.
It helps Brooks' case that the Wizards are perking up. They have won seven of their last nine games, during which time they've fielded a top-10 defense after ranking near the bottom in that category. They might have turned a corner.
On the flip side, they're getting lucky. Opponents are shooting under 35 percent on their wide-open threes during this stretch. That number will normalize. And Washington still has to concern itself with the decline of Russell Westbrook and limited center depth.
If the Wizards are serious about keeping Bradley Beal around, there are only so many changes they can make midseason. Should they enter another skid, look for Brooks' name to hit the chopping block.
3. Mike Malone, Denver Nuggets
Now we're journeying into the land of intense speculation.
Mike Malone is well-liked around the league and in Denver. Most importantly, he is well-liked by his star player, Nikola Jokic. If he wants Malone to stay, he will stay. Beyond that, the Nuggets have built a culture founded around taking care of their own. Firing a longtime head coach midseason goes against that concept.
Still, the Nuggets are facing championship expectations after making it to the Western Conference Finals in the playoffs last year. It doesn't bode well for them that they're under .500, sporting a terrible defense and struggling to beat other teams with losing records.
Keep an eye on this situation. We should know whether Malone is truly safe by the March 25 trade deadline.
4. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks
Mike Budenholzer seemed like a goner after the 2020 postseason. The Bucks flamed out in the second round of the playoffs again, and everyone thought Giannis Antetokounmpo would consider leaving during 2021 free agency. Changing up the coach would have been a way to show him the organization is striving to do better than early postseason exits.
But losing Antetokounmpo is no longer a concern. The Bucks traded for Jrue Holiday and then Giannis signed a five-year supermax extension. Milwaukee no longer needs to show Budenholzer the door.
And yet, he will still be under an intense microscope. He has long been criticized for his lack of mid-game adjustments, and the Bucks defense, while elite last year, has slipped a tick this season.
Indeed, some of their struggles are due to experimentation. Budenholzer is making a concerted effort to vary his schemes. That buys him time since it suggests he's working on what's perceived to be his greatest weakness. With this in mind, if the Bucks suffer through another prolonged losing streak, his seat is going to get awfully hot.
Check out the below list of the best online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all your NBA betting: